Cathedrals again

August 19, 2005

Andrew Slim should not be so quick with the tut-tutting (Letters, August 12). No one has ever suggested that possession of a Roman Catholic cathedral, after the Reformation, made any difference to the status of the urban area in which it was situated. John Beckett was pointing out that Nottingham is a city in spite of the lack of an Anglican cathedral, which was traditionally the important point.

Moreover, Southwell Minster is a cathedral church (the location of the cathedra or throne of a bishop), just like York Minster. A minster is the church of a monastery, or more generally "any large church, esp. a collegiate or cathedral church" ( Shorter Oxford English Dictionary ). Ergo, Southwell has a cathedral but is still not a city.

Northampton, too, has a cathedral, but only a Roman Catholic one, and is not a city. Leeds, like Nottingham, is a city although it has no Anglican cathedral. Perhaps we can agree that Poppleton can be a city in spite of its lack of any sort of cathedral?

Richard Austen-Baker
Lancaster University

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